Gout Basics

Let’s talk about the ABCs of gout . Gout, a type of arthritis, is more common among men than women. It’s caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream leading to a buildup in a joint of uric acid crystals. Symptoms of gout are extreme pain, redness, swelling, and heat in the affected joint. Gout usually occurs in just one joint, most commonly the one in the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the toes, knees, and ankles. Flare-ups of gout may occur suddenly and can persist for days or even weeks. These flare-ups are often followed by long stretches when the sufferer is free of symptoms – weeks, months, or even years.

Gout Does Not Spare the Famous

Today’s gout sufferers have plenty of company provided by both historical and current well-known figures. Here are three notable historical personages that were afflicted with gout.

  • King Henry VIII of England (1491-1547) – The Tudor Court believed in sumptuous banquets and overeating. The gouty condition of the overweight monarch Henry VIII gave rise to the term “disease of kings.”
  • Sir Isaac Newton (1643- 1727)< – The famous physicist and mathematician experienced a lot of pain in the final two years of his life when he was afflicted with gout in both of his feet. Newton concluded that “gout is produced from the operation of a poison on the system.”
  • Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) – Gout caused this Founding Father to miss many meetings while drafting the Declaration of Independence. In 1780, he wrote an essay entitled Dialogue Between the Gout and Mr. Franklin.

Moving on to the present day, here are some well-known persons who suffer from gout.

  • Jared Leto – When starring in the movie Chapter 27, Leto was required to gain sixty pounds. He then developed pain in his feet so severe that he needed a wheelchair to get around.
  • Jim Belushi – Another famous actor, Belushi has suffered from gout for the past fifteen years. He discussed his experience with gout in this video.
  • David Wells – The Yankees and Blue Jays pitcher has struggled with gout in both feet throughout his baseball career and has likened the pain to a hole being drilled in his big toe!

Causes of Gout

The following conditions and issues are associated with the likelihood of developing gout.

  • Diet and fluid intake – It’s important to eat a gout-prevention diet that includes foods containing complex carbs rather than simple carbs – fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Cut back on saturated fats from red meat, fatty poultry, and high-fat dairy products. And, stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Eating foods with high levels of purines – Purines are organic compounds that the body breaks down into uric acid. Foods rich in purine include red meat, organ meat, and some seafood – anchovies, mussels, sardines, scallops, trout, tuna. Just eating a low-purine diet won’t cure you of gout, however, achieving a healthy weight will assist in alleviating your gout symptoms and decrease the risk associated with complications of metabolic syndrome.
  • Alcohol consumption – A study reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that moderate alcohol consumption (up to two drinks a day for men) was associated with a 41 percent increased risk of recurrent gout attacks for men.
  • Obesity – It’s simple – more fat, more gout! The heavier you are, the more difficulty your body has in removing uric acid.
  • Certain health issues – Congestive heart failure, hypertension (high blood pressure), insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and reduced kidney function.
  • Use of some medications, such as diuretics (water pills)Diuretics cause increased urination. This lowers the level of fluid in the body, but the fluid that remains becomes more concentrated. The concentrated fluid can raise the likelihood of the development of gout-causing crystals. Some diuretics can also reduce the excretion of urate, a component of uric acid, by the kidneys.

Gout Can Affect Anyone and is on the Rise

Once regarded as a royal disease, gout is increasingly affecting commoners. A 2011 study estimated that the number of Americans with gout stood at over eight million, and this figure has surely risen since then as more and more people have become overweight.

Treatment for Gout

There is no absolute cure for gout, but the condition can be effectively treated and controlled with self-management strategies and medication. It’s important to seek treatment early on to avoid permanent joint damage. If you think you have gout, make an appointment with Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle. Treating gout is one of our specialties and we will help you live more comfortably with your gout. Make an appointment with us today.